Highlights of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 21 March 2011, in Chalets 7&8 of the Interim Convention Center, as recorded for JICA
(Note: IPJI has placed some text in "bold" type for emphasis and has clarified some statements)
Chairman Bob Krueger brought the meeting to order at 9:30 AM. Board members present were Steve Croy, Buddy DeLoach, Mike Hodges, Laura Lanier, and Sybil Lynn. Richard Royal was on conference telephone. DNR Coastal Resources Director Spud Woodward sat in for DNR Commissioner Mark Williams. Also present were Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks, legal counsel Brooks Stillwell, and Nancy Gallagher (State Attorney General’s Office). The audience numbered about 45 persons.
CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION
Sea Turtle Center Director Dr. Terry Norton announced that comments received regarding the new draft of the JISPA Conservation Plan (posted 7 March) have been very positive. Norton remarked that steps are already being taken in the directions outlined in the Plan, in the form of removal of invasive plants and an invasive caterpillar attacking native prickly pear cactus, and planning for wildlife surveys (headed by GSTC Research Coordinator Kimberly Andrews). Norton gave as a further example of the Conservation Plan in action the DiamondbackTerrapin Conservation Program that the GSTC is undertaking. He described the fascinating program in detail, including the part that Masters Degree candidate Brian Crawford (University of Georgia) is playing. (Note that the diamondback terrapin is a species of special concern in Georgia, with low and declining populations, and is considered a flagship species for the health of the coastal-marsh ecosystem.)
Chairman Hodges reported revenue for the month of February of $866,000, only $9,000 under budget. Revenue for the fiscal year to date is $10,875,000, $151,000 over budget. Net cash flow for February was -$389,000, and year-to-date net cash flow was +$313,000.
Chairman Hodges requested and received permission for Accounting Director Marjorie Johnson to sell shares (now worth $189) of the company (Lodgian) that formerly oversaw operations at the old Jekyll Holiday Inn (the former CFO of JISPA had purchased the shares as a means of obtaining information about the Inn’s finances).
Director Hooks reported that Russell Golf Designs (of Austin, TX, and now St. Simons Island) has offered to provide a master plan for Great Dunes Golf Course. The idea would be to ensure maintenance of the historical aspects of this course, and improve playability. At this point, no financial obligations would be required. This proposal was approved.
Chairman DeLoach requested that the Finance Committee members please attend an afternoon meeting at which 2011/2012 marketing plans would be discussed. Marketing Director Eric Garvey described a recent golf tournament (the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational) in the Park, with organizing by Oglethorpe University, in which 52 Division III NCAA college teams participated. Other recent golf events were the Johnny Paulk Invitational, hosted by Glynn Academy, in which 25 Georgia high school teams participated, and a couple of other high-school and youth golf tournaments.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman Krueger called for a motion to adopt the new JISPA Satellite Dish Ordinance; the ordinance was adopted. (To read the ordinance, click here.)
Director Hooks observed that discussions have been underway with entrepreneurs (Young International) who might be willing to start a seafood restaurant with a Jekyll Island State Park theme at the Atlanta Hartsfield/Jackson International Airport (a Jekyll Island Branded Concept Restaurant). Attorneys are now studying the possible agreement on the restaurant’s launch. One possibility for restaurant décor would be live broadcasting of events from the Park via Skype. It is possible that events sponsored by Young International could produce proceeds a portion of which could flow to the Jekyll Island Foundation. The Board gave Hooks permission to move ahead and explore the concept of a restaurant in the Atlanta airport.
Director Hooks and staff have put together a written proposal to Glynn County to be involved in the sixth Special Local Option Sales Tax. Monies flowing to the Park would be used to improve the Park’s amenities ($3 million for enhancement of bike trails, resurfacing of streets and parking areas, and renovation of the Clam Creek Fishing Pier). The Board approved the list of projects.
Tony Sammons of Georgia Power made a request for endorsement of an Eco-Educational Conference Center to be located in downtown Brunswick. Sammons emphasized that the intent would not be to compete with convention centers such as that of Jekyll Island State Park – rather, the downtown center would be for small groups (100 or fewer participants). The Board asked Director Hooks to look further into the question of providing a resolution of support for the downtown center.
Spud Woodward announced that the State Legislature has approved the formation of the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation, to support the mission of the Department of Natural Resources. The Board of the new Foundation has asked DNR personnel to provide ideas for funding targets of the Foundation. Woodward plans to propose funding for the multipurpose center that he has been supporting, to be constructed in the vicinity of Ski Rixen Pond. Basic users of the center would be UGA/4H, JISPA, DNR, and the College of Coastal Georgia. It would replace the existing Tidelands Center with a building of greater capabilities for keeping marine wildlife in captivity for research and educational purposes. Some monies for the financial support of the multipurpose center may come from the financial penalties imposed upon those responsible for the severe mercuric pollution of the Turtle River in Brunswick (LCP Chemical, et al.).
Director Hooks noted that almost 50% of the residences in the Park have now obtained rental licenses.
Hooks reported that the Oceanfront Resort has not been sold, contrary to media reports. The owner has rejected the auction price, and the bank is still making lease payments to the Park.
Hooks remarked that the “X-Men dunes” are now unfenced, and visitors can see the restoration work that has been performed, including planting >30,000 native dune plants.
Hooks explained that the Jekyll fireworks display ordinarily put on for celebration of the 4th of July will not be held in 2011, for reasons of safety and low capacity for parking due to construction.
Chairman Krueger reported that he and Director Hooks met recently with Governor Deal, and described the current progress in the revitalization projects.
Frank Mirasola asked Spud Woodward whether the nature walks and kayak tours now given by Tidelands would be continued should the new multipurpose center replace Tidelands? Answer: most definitely.
Joe Malbasa complimented Dr. Norton on his program for conservation of the diamondback terrapins, and offered any assistance that the Jekyll Island Citizens Association might be able to provide.
Mindy Egan reminded the Board that Al Tate (advisory member of the Conservation Planning Committee) had previously submitted a set of ideas for ecotourism in the Park – these would be worth sharing with planners for the multipurpose center proposed for Ski Rixen Pond. She also supported the cancelation of the fireworks as a responsible move to ensure public safety.
Chairman Krueger adjourned the meeting at 11:15 AM.
Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association